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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Three Reasons You Should Write

There are a lot of books in this world. A LOT. And it can seem daunting to a new author who is just going to add a few to the list of no-name books that no one remembers after a few years. The big question is, should those books not be written? Should a writer not write because someone has already said, in one way or another, what they are about to write?
The only answer here is- Heck no!
There’s a good Utah answer for you, right there. Heck no. Here are some valuable reasons why authors should get their writing out there:
  1. It is your writing and no one can say it exactly how you would say it. No matter if the situation or the information is the same, there is no one that can write that book or that story or paper the way you would write it. It’s like your DNA strand of writing, and luckily, no one will say verbatim what you would say…unless they plagiarize, and then they should be shot. Kidding. Kind of.
  2. There are so many valuable lessons learned during the process of writing a book: hard work, humility, perseverance, researching, writing, editing, and finishing skills, people skills, and so many more. The juice is worth the squeeze, no matter how many have squeezed before you.
  3. Someone out there needs what you write. Most books are not for all audiences. They’re meant to reach targeted readers. Because of that, there is only a select group that will read your book to begin with. One or more of those readers will find something significant in something you have written, and that will make everything worth it for the one reader.
So writers, or soon to be writers, when you feel overwhelmed by the sure mass of books that are available at your fingertips, remember that…that fact should have no bearing on whether you choose to write. Write because you love to, because it’s a way of expressing yourself. And whether you become great or not, worry not about that. That’s just the cherry on your delicious cake anyway!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Flash Fiction is Amazing!


Ok seriously, I thought short stories and flash fiction were a joke. But the real joke is, you don’t become a good writer until you can write a concentrated, shortened version of a story. I have learned so, so much from writing a Flash Fiction piece as an exercise in one of my writing groups. It is not perfect, yet, but I like it.
Quick list of things I learned:
-Limited words means a tighter scene, quicker pacing, and better word choice
-Cut, cut, cut
-Writing in present tense is fun, but hard
-You can say so much with so little
The theme for this flash fiction piece was “Something Lost.” For those who have had trouble with abuse in the past, just a forewarning, there are some subtle PG hints to abuse and I don’t want to catch anyone off guard. Tell me what ya think. πŸ™‚
* * *
The Unnamed One
Jenny Flake Rabe
Today will never be like yesterday. But the next few thousand tomorrows will look a lot like today.
Thoughts of yesterday filter through my mind.
Church. Family. White Dress. A perfect day, really. And then he shows up.
He catches my eye and winks. I smile. It has been too long. Unwanted butterflies flutter in my heart, but I push them away and look forward. My betrothed is here, focusing his attention on the doors. I look away from Michael, only to find him staring at me.
“Come with me,” he mouths.  He looks at me with those chocolate-melting eyes, pleading for me to stall.
My heart thumps inside at the possibilities. I sneak out when no one is looking and we go to a room where I can’t hear the organ play.
He backs me into a wall and whispers long-forgotten sweet things in my ear.
Memories. Feelings. Promises.
He kisses me, and something in me leaves. Something pure and right. We have too much past together.
I shake my head and head for the stairs. Michael is waiting, the one that fills me with hope and reminds me I have value.
“Michael deserves more than what you can give him,” he says to me. He fills me up with words and more stolen kisses. He reminds me of what I am, of what we’ve done. I crumble at the truth, the mascara making a mess on my face.
I look for a path to freedom, but feel his steady gaze. I can’t escape the past. He won’t let me disappear again. I nod and agree to leave with him.
On the short drive, my heart breaks over and over. I can’t bear to look at the person who made me leave my one, true love. I imagine Michael staring down the aisle, waiting with eager anticipation. Our relationship had been unlike any other in my life— no settling, no broken promises, no betrayal.
Until now. I ruin everything I start.
He whispers, “We’ll do it right this time, baby. You’ll be mine forever. Things will be better.” I flinch when he runs a hand over me, like I’m an actor in his next play.
We find a wedding venue, and they marry us on the spot. He pays for a cheap hotel room, the only one he can afford. “Money is tight,” he says, “but we’ll make it.” And I smile because Michael told me this once. We had planned on being poor and happy.
Once alone, he takes what I have repaired so long ago. My body aches and I feel empty inside. I try to smile and ignore the thoughts of what could have been. But it is done. I have chosen. When it is over, we find a no-name burger joint and he refuels.
He talks, but I still don’t hear. I’m in a daze.
The night is long and I feel I’m on a rinse-repeat cycle. When he finally collapses, I breathe a sigh of relief and cry into my pillow. Eventually I sleep.
The bed shakes and I cower. I freeze and pretend I don’t care. Though in all honesty, I guess there is nothing worse that could happen. I have hit rock bottom and will be here when the layers of earth settle on top of me for years to come.
He reaches over and finds mine. My guilt chokes me. I hope that my slight touch will be enough to appease him for now. I stare down at myself and wince.
“Morning, baby,” he says to me, in that lovey-dovey voice male characters in movies use after their one night stands. This was neither a good morning or a one-night stand.
I turn on my side. Did he see my eyes? We do what he wants all morning, and I find some reprieve in a restaurant bathroom during a break. I cry and cry until no tears are left. I want to call Michael and apologize, but my new husband has stripped everything from me. I come out of the stall and a lady so dark I could have drawn her with a lead pencil stares at me.
She looks at my arms, my legs, my face. Purple and blue are not my colors. Compassion shows in the crinkles in her eyes. I try to smile, and her frown deepens. I wash my hands and go to leave, but she stops me with a hand.
She hands me a cellphone, nods, and blocks the door. I stare at the numbers and then I call. Michael picks up right away and I cry quietly in the phone.
“I’ll be there in a couple of hours,” he says. “Don’t move.”
I hang up the phone and give it back to her. “Violet,” she says, introducing herself. I nod, but remain quiet. I can’t stay in the bathroom for long. He’ll know.
I walk closer to the door, but she doesn’t budge. She dials a number on her phone and I frantically rush at her. “You can’t,” I whisper, fighting against her with my tiny fists. She takes each blow, catching them with her wide hands.
The fight in me leaves after a while. Her hazel eyes calm me, and I focus on them when I feel a scream rising. Soon, I hear loud noises outside, but she continues to bar the door. Other people try to enter, but she refuses to move.
A knock comes to the door. I hear Michael’s voice. I nod, and she releases me into his arms. I look at her over my shoulder and hope my look tells her everything I feel.
Michael holds me and a joy indescribable fills me to my toes. I weep in his arms, and he kisses each tear away.
An officer waits, but Michael waves them away for now. I squeeze his hand and he kisses my forehead. I don’t deserve him, but every day I try to prove myself wrong.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

When You're Done, You've Just Begun...


So here I am, a shiny new copy of my novel in my hand, and what do I see? A big, big mistake. Good thing it was a proof, huh?
I’ve decided to invest the eight extra dollars to order a proof of the book and take the time to…uh read my novel πŸ™‚ Guess how many mistakes I’ve found? Uh, yeah, don’t ask. A few on every page.
It just goes to show, there will be errors even after you go through multiple beta-reading rounds, hire a professional editor, and edit it yourself.
For nine years, I taught at a charter school in Ogden, and we taught writing through the Lucy Caulkin’s curriculum. I LOVED it. Seriously. It retaught me how to write. Like for reals, and I was teaching that crazy stuff to FIFTH graders. Amazing!
Anyway, one of their mantras is, “When you’re done, you’ve just begun. Return to your work.” Do you know how many times I would say that to students? Like a lot. So much so that I finally decided to print it out on a piece of paper and hold it up whenever an eager writer told me, “Mrs. Rabe, Mrs. Rabe, I’m done. I’m done.”
No one ever told me they were done after about a month of teaching them, and it was amazing. Not because I wanted to crush their writing spirits, but because in writing, you learn, there is something we can always improve. But at some point, you gotta put the dang thing down and share it with someone. And that’s what I’m going to do, after I edit it one more time. πŸ™‚
Put yourself out there! It’s an amazing feeling. And who cares if you suck and wrote “of” instead of “off” (Just found that tonight). Big deal. Should that stop you from putting something really great out? Absolutely not.
Be brave.
Put yourself out there.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Remember the Good parts of Writing when you are Editing

Lots of big things going on here. Just turned my MG manuscript to a real editor. πŸ™‚ Expensive, but exciting!
While I wait to hear back which editor is a good match, I am diligently working on my YA Romance/Mystery, “Diving for Love.” I have alot of work to do after beta-readers just returned critiques back to me. Hundreds of things to fix, but I love this story. And the key part of getting critiquing is remembering your favorite parts while trudging through the mud of fixing the other problems. So as a treat to myself as I edit, and hopefully to my readers, here are some of my favorite lines from the chapter where my MC meets the love interest’s mom.
The door opened, and a lady dressed in a knee-length black dress and clickety hills peered out at me. Skinny as a fishing rod with short blonde hair that fell in waves around her shoulders. She was the perfect opposite of a modern housewife. Manicured nails that had probably never touched more than mineral bath water, hair that was completely in place, and clothes that never went on sale.
Her smile was spread tightly on her face, and I was sure I could have drawn it with a lip-liner pencil.
Mrs. Williams face straightened immediately and the fake smile came back. “Well aren’t you as cute as a bug.” Her sugary, sweet temperament set my teeth on edge, and I couldn’t help picturing myself in bug form, being squashed by her stiletto heels.
A few seconds after, the door swung open and I turned to see Mrs. Williams coming toward me, her green eyes flashing. She looked like a bull ready to attack, and I didn’t want to become aftermath on Sam’s front lawn.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

First Chapter Happiness

I love starting a new writing project. It’s new and exciting, and not tainted by opinions and red ink. This past week, I have started working on my new idea that I have been brainstorming for almost six months now. While my beach story is out to beta-readers, I get to focus elsewhere for a while, and it’s like a breath of fresh air. In celebration, I’d love to share my first chapter with you. It’s an adult romance that will end of being a cross between While you Were Sleeping and Sleeping Beauty. You’ll love it! Here goes!
Chapter 1 πŸ™‚
“Girls, where are you?” my boss yelled through the radio speaker.
I looked up from my spreadsheet where I had been drafting a proposal to a new client. Brittany, the other assistant, smiled at me and shook her head. I shrugged, but knew exactly what she was thinking.
“I need help with a client.”
I stared at the grooved edges of my walkie talkie. I waited a few seconds for my friend to volunteer, but she was still studying her nails. Fine. I needed more face time with the boss anyway.
“On my way,” I said, shutting off my computer.
“On my way,” Brittany said, mimicking me with wide purple lips. Today she wore purple lip liner with an opal pink shine in the middle. Every day she experimented with a new color. On most people, it made them look like a fruity unicorn, but with her wiry black hair and quirky personality, it fit.
I glared at my best friend and partner-in-crime, though I couldn’t be upset if she was allowing me more opportunities to do favors for the boss.
“Be right back,” I said, dropping the radio on our joined desks.
“You know, you don’t have to do everything she asks you to do. She’s got a full staff.”
I fixed the collar on my shirt and straightened my hair. “Yes, but I don’t know why when all she needs is me.” I winked and pulled back in my chair, slamming into the back wall. I winced and shifted out of my seat as carefully as I could. It took me three more steps before I get out of our brooms closet-sized office and one hundred more before I reached Mel’s master bedroom of an office. The comparison was ridiculous.
I knocked and a little thrill of excitement coursed through me. I had been working at the resort for almost a year, and Mel was finally relinquishing some of my leash. Maybe she’d even let me take care of this client on my own, without her disapproving stares.
“Enter.” Mellie Crims didn’t bother to look up from her stack of papers as I came in, event planner and pen in hand. I waited silently, watching as her long dark tresses flowed over her shoulder and touched the edges of her desk.
Her words spilled out of her mouth and it was all I could to keep up. “There’s a customer that needs your attention at the hospital. I’m sure you are capable of doing it by yourself. Just make sure to get him to sign the waiver forms so the resort’s butt is covered. I don’t know how you don’t see a tree when you’re skiing. Amateur.”
I cleared my throat, wanting to make sure I heard her right. “Wait, is this guy a potential client? Is he booking an event at the resort?”
A flash of irritation crossed Mellie’s face. “Look I know I put you in charge over events at the resort, but we’re busy today, so all hands on deck. Go get my signatures.”
“Right away,” I said, regretting my hesitation. I left before she could add anything else to my to-do list. I bypassed the elevator and made my way to the stair entrance.  Stairs would give me the best opportunity for more steps. I looked down at my watch. 950 steps and it was only 10:00.
Even if the guy wasn’t a potential client, I would put my best foot forward. One day, I was positive Mellie would notice my dedication.
It was good to see my 2004 Honda CRV so early in the day. Most of the time, I arrived and left work when it was dark outside. It had been through a lot with me over the years.
Orange, yellow, and crimson red leaves decorated the trees as I passed through the canyon, but I just couldn’t concentrate. How could I get Mellie to see I was so much more than an errand girl? I had been hired to be the event planner for the ski resort and yet the only thing I was planning were the events on Mellie’s schedule. I had slowly become her personal assistant.
Once she graduated from some fancy Ivy League school, she was hired as General Manager and took over her daddy’s resort. She wasn’t the worst boss in terms of efficiency. We had never had so many events happening at the resort in over fifteen years. But I hadn’t brought most of that business in, and I knew Mellie thought I was incompetent. Really, I just needed a snowball’s chance in Mellie’s shoes.
Ominous clouds filled the sky over the hospital and I was glad I wouldn’t be at work when the storm hit. Still, we needed snow. We had been creating our own snow for weeks with the limited amount of snowstorms this season, and we needed a good one.
A few minutes later, I pulled into the emergency part of the city hospital and spent the next few minutes standing in line at the receptionist’s desk. I tapped my foot along with some elevator music playing in the waiting room. I just needed to be clear with Mellie my long-term goals. She had to know I was in this job for the long haul, but if she didn’t, maybe I could put that little worry to rest.
When it was my turn, I plastered a smile on my face. “Hi, I am trying to find a Joe Smith. He had an accident at the ski resort and I need him to sign some forms.”
The lady at the desk smiled politely, but I felt a wall coming up. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in an emergency room unless you are next of kin.”
“Oh, I totally understand that,” I said, knowing Mellie would not let me take no for an answer, “and I’ll be happy to stay outside his door until he signs the paper.”
She looked up at the ceiling and then back at me, her expression growing annoyed. “That won’t work either. Why don’t you take a seat and I’ll call you when he is released from our care.”
“There’s nothing else I can do. Sorry.”
I spun on the spot, irritation rising in my neck. It would not help to appeal to her any longer. There must be other ways to reach him. I saw someone standing at the entry of the Emergency Room and crossed my fingers he would be sympathetic. He looked nice from the back with his brown crew cut, tall but muscular build. Surely he could help.
“Excuse me,” I said, tapping his white coat on the back. “I need to see my brother. Could you let me in?”
The guy spun around and I barely stumbled into the wall next to me. He caught me, albeit a little awkward, and I laughed. “S- Sorry. Must have lost my footing for a second.” I couldn’t believe it. I was staring into the face of Chace Crawford’s doppelganger. Hot!
“Uh, no problem. I’m Dr. Camden. Here, let me get this open for you.” He scanned his ID card across the side of the door and it whooshed open. “Who was it you were coming to see?”
Why had I lied to a hot doctor? “I’m Rory , and I wasn’t totally honest.”
The doctor’s eyebrows rose on his forehead, but a smile still played on his lips. “Nice to meet you. What do you mean you weren’t honest? Is it your boyfriend or something? I can’t let you back here if you’re not a family member.”
I sighed. “Yeah, no, not my boyfriend. I don’t even know the guy really, but my boss is going to kill me if I don’t get this signature. A guy had an accident at my work today, and I need him to sign some waiver forms.”
He sighed and moved further down the hall. His stride was so long, I had to walk twice as fast to keep up. “Who’s the guy, and I’ll see what I can do?”
 “Thank you. I think his name is Joe. Joe Smith.”
The doctor stopped mid-step, and since I was right behind him, I slammed into his back— his nice-smelling back, holy cow! He smelled like the Aeropostale cologne I was a little too fascinated with. He turned, unaware of my new attraction to him, his face confused and maybe angry.
“Where did this accident happen?” he said, his voice steady and low.
I swallowed hard, wondering how things could go sour so quickly. “It was a skiing accident. I work at a resort and—”
He held up a hand. “Wait, your resort? Do you know how irresponsible it was to not have proper signage on your obstacle course? My friend could have died.”
I swallowed again, not used to being yelled at by a guy. I’d take Mellie’s rantings any day over this. I decided to ignore what I could not control. “I don’t know anything about his accident, but I do need him to sign these forms. So if you’ll be so kind, please take me to him.”
“Oh, I’ll take you to him, alright. I’m sure he won’t be signing any forms though.”
I followed behind him, no longer checking him out, but wanting to doodle skulls on his nice, white lab coat.
A few seconds later, he entered a room, and I followed quickly behind so I could get a word in edgewise before he tainted my reason for coming.
Joe looked sickly white and had a large gash across his forehead covered in stitches.
Dr. Camden gestured to me and then turned to the patient. “Can you believe this? The resort sent a lackey to make you sign some waiver forms. Don’t do it, Joe. It was their fault and the resort is responsible.”
I moved from behind the doctor and tried to give Joe my warmest smile. “We are so sorry about your accident and in behalf of the resort, we wanted to apologize. Because we ask skiers to ski at their own risk, the resort really isn’t at fault. I just need you to sign these waiver forms saying the resort wasn’t at fault and I’ll be out of your hair.”
Dr. Camden shook his head and grunted. He sat on the side of Joe’s bed and checked the stitches crossing his forehead and blocking my eyesight. I glared at the back of his head. What was his problem?
“See, she says they’re not at fault. What kind of ridiculous nonsense is this?”
A nervous energy rose in my stomach. For once I wished Mellie had taken this assignment herself. 
Joe held up a hand and gestured for Dr. Camden to move. “It was not this girl’s fault. You’re going to scare the sweet thing. Look at her.”
The doctor turned to me, and what might have been a flash of compassion in his eyes, left as quickly as it came. “Sorry. This is not personal. You seem nice and all, but Joe’s my best man here.”
I nodded, and the tightness in my stomach loosened a little. I would have defended Brittany or any friend really. It really sucked being on the other side of this.
“Which resort was it, and I’ll call my lawyer to take care of this?”
Joe cleared his throat and mumbled something I couldn’t hear.
“What did you say?” Dr. Camden said, obviously not hearing him either.
It’s you fiancΓ©’s resort, Cam. I was skiing at Mellie’s resort today.”

My Final Release of the Year!

Love From Left Field